Monday, May 03, 2010

Battle Report Day

I have a new Starcraft 2 Beta battle report up at battlereports.com!

Unpaid dog-waste removal firm fights back
High school student attacked by ninja
Strange skull baffles Bill

tagged as games | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Busy Day

Location chosen for European Extremely Large Telescope
Stephen Hawking Advises People to Avoid Contact With Aliens
Cletus, the nearly 3,000-lb steer sold at auction

tagged as data | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Mnemonics

How do you teach a bunch of remedial freshman musicians, most of them theatre majors and trumpeters, to hear standalone intervals? Here are the listening examples I taught in my MUT1241 class in 2003.

Ascending IntervalsDescending Intervals

minor second:

major second:

minor third:

major third:

perfect fourth:

augmented fourth:

perfect fifth:

minor sixth:

major sixth:

minor seventh:

major seventh / perfect octave:

minor second:

major second:

minor third:

major third:

perfect fourth:

augmented fourth:

perfect fifth:

minor sixth:

major sixth:

minor seventh:

major seventh:

perfect octave:

You are now ready for your interval quiz.

Woman with no arms will kick Mark and Mike's asses
"Cougar effect" boosts lingerie sales
Hapless sailor takes a round trip

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, May 06, 2010

List Day: 10 Ways to Know that a LOST Episode Will Disappoint

  1. A large portion of episode is spent wandering through the jungle towards a clear goal, but the group deviates at the last minute to pursue a different goal instead.

  2. A battle occurs, and both sides have enough guns to found a militia.

  3. Someone else gets shot, and the Giacchino motive for "You'd better care about this" plays in the background.

  4. You pull out your laptop during a commercial break, and don't notice that the show has come back on.

  5. A submarine dives and/or surfaces, but never travels in a horizontal direction.

  6. Jack tries to fix something (other than a sandwich).

  7. Jack and/or Sawyer do something retarded because Kate is threatened.

  8. Half of the episode is devoted to character building in an alternate reality which will probably disappear into irrelevance by the end of the show.

  9. A character repeatedly shouts, "They took my  X !", where X is either "boy" or "husband".

  10. Plot development is furthered through edgy and nonsensical dream sequences (also applies to HBO shows).

Teacher poisoned his own coffee
Office survival guide sees humor in job misery
Two arrested over monkey balls

tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Fragments

♠ Yesterday, Rebecca left for a camping trip at the Grand Canyon, so I can now invite strippers to house parties with impunity for the next few days. If you are a stripper in need of a venue, and are also willing to bring steaks, let me know.

♠ We grilled some hamburgers on Wednesday night, and discovered that a year-old bag of Costco patties reconstitutes pretty well in spite of freezer burn. My six-year-old grill is on its last legs now though, and a new one might be in the cards in time for summer grilling season.

♠ Speaking of replacements, I'll need to replace my twelve-year-old scanner at some point, since it finally stopped working during the preparation for a Memory Day post. Without a scanner, I cannot subject you to delightful pictures of crap in my drawers.

♠ At the rate of scanning so far, I estimate that it'll take another six to eight years of posts before I run out of history. Then I might have to actually come up with new content for posts -- maybe a "What I Ate for Lunch" featurette.

♠ Plans for the weekend will be pretty boring. Because Rebecca is catching wild mules at the bottom of the canyon, I'll probably be at the computer all weekend cranking out a new release of DDMSence involving Schematron (which is not as cool as it sounds), and maybe writing another battle report. I might also finish cleaning out the basement closet, which has been the final box in the flow chart of "places to put crap I'm too lazy to throw away" for a couple years now.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Beaver dams visible from space
Boy with cancer turns superhero for a day
Spider-Man catches thief in Adelaide

tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

I managed to complete two projects on my bachelor weekend while Rebecca was wandering around in a big pit:

1) I've published a new Starcraft 2 Beta report at BattleReports.com.

2) A new release of DDMSence is available (v.1.3.1) which allows users to validate their data with custom rules defined in ISO Schematron.

I am currently working on an oral treatment for both cancer and scabies, and hope to have something available over the counter by Friday.

Besides sexual syndromes, Wii now linked to violent crime sprees
Lord Jesus Christ hit by Mass. car
A room with a view to one big mystery

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Newsday Tuesday

Boy Scouts Offer New Merit Pin -- for Video Gaming

The Boy Scouts of America -- a group founded on the principles of building character and improving physical fitness -- have introduced a brand new award for academic achievement in video gaming, a move that has child health experts atwitter.

Taking their cue from the popular online game, World of Warcraft, some cash-strapped local councils are also planning to convert their Cub Scout packs completely into online entities on the Scoutcrusher server. Said one den mother, "Building character in WoW is the next logical step for Cub Scouts in the 21st century -- there are Cooking skills and group activities, and I, as a mother, don't have to sew eight million ridiculous patches every time my kid earns an Achievement."

"It could be quite visionary and exciting or it could be a complete sellout," said Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. "I don't see anything wrong with that as long as they're not playing first-person shooter games, violent games, games with a lot of sexual or drug content. The question is, who's going to supervise the scouts?"

Strasburger suggested that the Cub Scouts stick to servers where players cannot attack other players (also known as PvE) to minimize cyber-bullying, and also noted that the Boy Scouts of America should stay away from the Roleplaying servers since "that's where all the pedophiles congregate". Meanwhile, BSA downplayed concerns about violent and sexual content in games by noting that parents could opt to have their kids pursue traditional activities instead of earning this badge, such as Family Life, Rifle Shooting, Shotgun Shooting, and Motorboating.

"Let's be serious: the kids are already into video games," said Renee Fairrer, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts of America. Fairrer said Scouts frequently try to focus youthful energy and interest through safe and constructive channels. Most boys are already interested in firearms, she said, so the Scouts offer Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting badges to teach proper safety protocols to older members.

Studies have shown that most teenage boys are also interested in sex, but the number of co-ed jamborees hosted by BSA has been extremely small. Said one forward-thinking BSA representative who did not wish to be identified, "We really need to work on getting some girls in the troops. If we don't hurry, the boys might turn gay and then we'd have to kick them out. That is not a sustainable growth pattern."

A review of some of the requirements for the Video Gaming pin shows that this achievement is actually very easy to accomplish, when compared to a pin like Astronomy, which was incredibly difficult in the days before they deigned to allow Scouts the use of a telescope.

♠ With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.

Buying plans may make sense for houses and indentured servants, but if you start your kid early on devising plans for one-step actions, they're going to need plans for eating a bowl of cereal or writing in cursive.

♠ Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.

A surprisingly high number of real-world skills are available in the Grand Theft Auto series, like the conversion of different units of measure (prostitute humps to health points), or the retail value of used and stolen vehicles. BSA is in talks with Rockstar Games to bundle copies of the game with the activity pin.

♠ Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer's warranty.

Since all three stores are likely to be a Gamestop, and since all games made by Nintendo are subject to price-fixing, comparison shopping doesn't really fit well on video games. Were I a Cub Scout facing this activity, the sole criterium necessary for a purchase would be "Is my dad willing to drive me to this store?"

7,500 Online Shoppers Unknowingly Sold Their Souls
We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint
Florida teen bets to wear same shoes through graduation

tagged as newsday | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

6:04 AM: Steam and lenses don't play well together.

6:21 AM: On the way to work.

6:58 AM: Gloomy day at work. Two computers is probably overkill. Lipton's Green Tea has no flavour.

10:49 AM: Down in the conference room, setting up for a presentation on testing.

11:55 PM: Heading home for lunch, behind someone who LUVs their KITY.

12:10 AM: Lunch is a giant sandwich with everything on it that's not a vegetable. I didn't realize at the time of buying how much bigger hoagie rolls are from steak rolls.

1:57 PM: Working from home.

3:32 PM: Mallory is puzzled, probably because she's facing in the opposite direction of travel.

3:48 PM: Dropping the Smiths off at Dulles Airport so they can catch a flight to Oregon.

5:05 PM: Checking the online weather report, to make sure that it is, in fact, thunderstorming.

5:59 PM: After a dinner of chicken bits shaped like Mickey Mouse's head, I play a little Starcraft 2 Beta.

6:08 PM: Rebecca comes home from a cancelled volleyball game to discover that we've somehow gained two extra cats, bringing our total to four.

See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!

'Starving yogi' astounds Indian scientists
Hey, what's that sound: the Katzenklavier
Instant replay: Alleged yo-yo champ dupes TV shows

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, May 13, 2010

List Day: Things I Threw Away Last Weekend

  • The complete series of "Quest for Clues" hint books for PC games from the 1980s. They were never a cost-effective purchase, since you never owned more than two of the games in the book.

  • A three-inch binder filled with horrible grad student presentations from Music Theory Pedagogy II at FSU

  • Three clarinet reeds

  • A set of 100 magic markers from 1992

  • Over 50 original jewel cases for CDs

  • Three workbooks from various summer camps on effective Drum Major skills from 1996

  • Two copies of my college-application musical compositions portfolio

  • Nine empty binders which I saved to reuse but then never reused

  • Back issues of Consumer Reports from 2004 to 2006

  • Back issues of Nintendo Power from the late 1980s

  • A four-port Ethernet hub

  • Twenty-five feet of telephone land line

  • Eight graphics card S-video adapters

  • Three telephones

  • Four power adapters that no longer go with anything

  • The rest of the cilantro

  • A litter container holding twenty pounds of bagged cat poop
Fabled giant worm not as giant as expected
Philadelphia cop intentionally shot himself
Family found dead after home swallowed

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Fragments

how did I forget this tagline last week?

♠ Last night after a run in the park, we went back to Omia's Pub and Grille for dinner where I had a delicious Supreme Steak and Cheese Sub, topped with mushrooms, onions, peppers, lettuce, tomato, and enough mayonnaise to cement a house together.

♠ For a fun trick to freak out your friends: wash out a mayo container when it's empty and fill it up with plain yogurt. The next time someone comes over, pull the mayo jar out of the fridge and nonchalantly start wolfing it down with a spoon. Delicious!

♠ There's a song on one of my Dr. Demento CDs from the 90s called "Delicious", which features two people getting increasingly tipsy and saying "Delicious!" over and over. I never found it funny, but I was never really into intellectually challenging humour. Just make a pun about farts and your stock will instantly rise in my eyes.

♠ I think it's strange that they still don't have an explanation for the day the stock market dropped eight billion points in seconds last week, but then, I'm also someone who's skeptical about the fact that Apple could unintentionally lose two next-gen iPhones in two weeks. I'm guessing some fund managers were having some fun(d), and wanted to see how many banks they could make fail in an hour.

♠ Speaking of banks that fail, when I closed my Bank of America account in 2003 and moved back to Virginia, they tried to keep the 800 dollars I had remaining in the account. Their reason was that they tried sending it to my old address and couldn't locate me, even though I had given them the new address. BoA definitely puts the douche in fiduciary.

♠ I'm happily under the umbrella of federal credit unions again now, and haven't had a banking related problem in months, not including Monopoly money.

♠ I don't have any big plans for the weekend, though I'll probably be releasing a new DDMSence version tonight -- the next release will probably let you watch television shows in XML, depending on how ambitious I am this afternoon.

♠ Have a great weekend!

The maze of Facebook privacy
Well, These New Zuckerberg IMs Won't Help Facebook's Privacy Problems
Who caused sell-off? Space aliens or fat finger

tagged as fragments | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday evening, after releasing DDMSence 1.3.2, I braved the unhealthily clogged artery that is southbound 7100 to play volleyball with some of Rebecca's friends from work, and we ended up playing for nearly three hours. I am now like an abused spheroid, as there are bruises on my radius and other bones. Post-volleyball dinner was a Chipotle burrito, which tastes delicious but can be rather nauseauting if you picture the entire blob of calories resting whole in your stomach.

Saturday was split into two doses of family time -- the first with Rebecca's family in Maryland, and the second at the Reston Festival (the Restival) of Fine Arts. The entire town center was blocked off and filled with tents of liberal arts majors from all over the country, hawking their $160 straw hats (wearable art) and weird Tim Burton-inspired sculptures made out of baby heads. While gazing upon a $500 watercolor with bits of old newspaper glued in random patterns, I realized that art doesn't impress me unless it looks like some minimum level of effort went into it.

Sunday was a mostly lazy day although I had to leave the confines of my chair to mow the lawn before the upcoming monsoon. In the afternoon, Rebecca and I played some badminton in the back yard, although we made a rule that we have to play at least three times this month before we're allowed to put up the net. In most years, we put it up for the first game and then never play again.

Homeless helped expose former TV chef Juan-Carlos Cruz murder-for-hire plot
Tourist hospitalised by venomous spider bite on penis
"cocking the memo book," a practical joke in which officers draw penises in each other's daily notebooks.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.

Elegiac: (adj.) expressing sorrow or lamentation

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is mainly for harp and bassoon, although it ended up more maudlin than sorrowful. "Elegiac" sounds more like a cough medicine than a term of sadness.

Man faked his way into Harvard
Gulf hotel installs gold-dispensing machine
Paris scorns lovers with scour of romantic bridge

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Chart Day

Metro Station's Opening Canceled Over Violent Murals
"City of Gonads" Jellyfish Discovered
Iowa couple find rare armadillo roadkill

tagged as data | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

JUnit Recipes: Practical Methods for Programmer Testing by J. B. Rainsberger:
The BURI is still out on the penchant for publishing companies to put unrelated animals and lithographs on the covers of their technical books, but I'm leaning towards the side of "utterly retarded design decision". Thankfully, I did not need any warrior skills to benefit from this book, which is a tip-oriented cookbook of common approaches and patterns for unit testing. It's not as cover-to-cover readable as, for example, a book in the Pragmatic Programmer series, but the information is concise and jokes are thankfully relegated to footnotes.

Final Grade: B-

The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary by Eric S. Raymond:
This tiny tome contains various essays on Open Source Software (which DDMSence is an example of), with musings on the psychology behind open source developers and several open-ended questions on the economic viability of open source. Some essays are more readable than others, but even the dry ones are interesting, as long as you are interested in the field.

Final Grade: B

A New Tide by Gomez:
I picked up this CD because I liked the song, and wanted to see what they'd done more recently. This CD is very mellow and easy to listen to, with a good mix of hooks and interesting combinations of instrumentation. Samples can be heard -- I really like the timbre of the vocalist on Track 2 and 6, but dislike the whiny Rufus-Wainwright-sounding guy on Track 1 and 5.

Final Grade: B+

LifeLock CEO's Identity Stolen 13 Times
Conservationists protest as Robert Mugabe sends 'ark' of animals to North Korea
Teacher uses presidential assassination to teach geometry

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, May 21, 2010

No Update Day

I've been busy all week preparing for a briefing which I'll be giving before a myriad of initials inside the Beltway this morning, so I haven't had time to write today's Fragments column. Have a great weekend!

Doomsday haven available in Mojave Desert
Wisconsin court gives inmate gift: 4 bikini photos
Lasers and iPods for the funeral of a lifetime

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

In culinary terms, my weekend was a lazy cake topped with busy. Friday night was a relaxing night at home with sushi on the back porch. We tried the really cheap sushi from Safeway, which satisfied without being particularly delicious. Good if you crave sushi on the way home (and cheaper than Trader Joe's), but not as good as going to a restaurant.

Saturday opened with a trip to Costco for steaks and shells. In the afternoon we went to the Wine Tasting Bar in Reston Town Center with Page, who would be "Evil Paige" by virtue of being the second Paige we know except that she spells her name differently. The tasting bar was an interesting amalgamation of wine and capitalism -- you load up Winery Debit Cards with cash and then insert them into a machine that squirts a sample of the wine into your glass. Afterwards, we went to Uno's for pizza, served under the overly watchful eye of the overly friendly waitress.

On Sunday, our plans to hike up Old Rag were cancelled because of tropical rainstorm conditions, so I purchased the new Super Mario Galaxy 2 game for the Wii, which is very similar to the first apart from the fact that Mario has a huge ego and flies around in a him-shaped spaceship.

In the evening, we ate at American Flatbread in Ashburn with Brian and Emily, which is even farther away than us Sterling-ites would usually travel for food. We followed this up with three and a half hours of LOST, arriving home halfway through the clip show.

Man sucked into sausage seasoning machine
Suspect's sneakers foils stuffed animal hideout
Royal Navy 'does not keep sea monster sighting archive'

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.

Malarial: (adj.) Unwholesome or poisonous

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for piano, strings, flutes, horns, and various percussion. After generating the random word title, I immediately came up with the one bar piano motive at the beginning, and the rest flowed from there.

Firing dispatcher for Facebook drug joke was right, Wisconsin council claims
Water gun fight prompts hazmat case, evacuations
Burglar feasts on sandwiches, but leaves money

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

List Day: 10 things planned for my day off today

  1. Burn a CD for work

  2. Write tomorrow's website update

  3. Work on a reboot of battlereports.com

  4. Work on the Paravia Wiki

  5. Spray the perimeter of the house to prevent ant invasions

  6. Eat shells and cheese for lunch

  7. Mow the lawn

  8. Read about XSLT

  9. Play Mario Galaxy 2

  10. Play volleyball at 7:15
Columbia's Antanas Mockus hopes his Super Citizen past will help make him president
Mobile phone number suspended after three users die in 10 years
Ann Curry apologizes for mixing up her Wheatons

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review Day: LOST

There are no spoilers from the finale in this review, although I do mention details from earlier episodes.

In the end, the LOST finale was about as good as it could have been. The writers opted for moving the needle towards a "warm and fuzzy" satisfying ending, rather than some sort of Sopranos brain-freeze, but the ending they chose left far too many major questions unanswered in an attempt to give all the characters a happy send-off. The closing scenes, which tug at the heart strings during a first viewing, become increasing irritating as you start to think about how irrelevant earlier plot points become in their wake.

In my opinion as a highly paid television critic (and despite the fact that the highly paid part has nothing to do with the critic part), they committed to the wrong course for the story when the island started "flashing through time" last season. Everything from that point was a temporal mess, with too much time wasted on new characters and side trips into the past. I can't decide whether it's a worser sin to drag the story out (as they did in Season Three), or to spend whole episodes on side plots that just don't matter. A prime example of this was the "Jacob and his crazy mom" episode, which was 100% unnecessary backstory.

Not all of this is the fault of the writers though. One of the original draws of the show was the mystery surrounding each character. By the third season, we knew all of the characters inside and out, so the show had to reinvent itself a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed the fourth season, which was the first season showing the future, but spent the entire fifth season bored and waiting for Charlotte to get off the show.

I live blogged my satisfaction levels during the finale on Facebook, starting at 95% because I'm a very easy grader. I liked the LOST-themed Target commercials, and general sappiness. I didn't like "Sayid's true love", the fact that the heart of the island resembled a deleted scene from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the fact that manipulating the heart of the island involved inserting or removing a giant stone penis from a hole in the ground, the overuse of the same melodies, the fact that everyone's "memories of love" started blending together into tedium by the end, and how retarded Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie looks. I thought it was cute that my local ABC affiliate tried to get into the LOST fever by advertising "feedback from LOST fans at 11!", not realizing that they had been preempted by the extra long LOST which ran to 11:30.

I ended at an 89% satisfaction level for the episode, but that would probably drop to an 80% after a few days to mull it over. In the end, I enjoyed the series as a whole, but felt it would have been greatly improved with about 1.5 fewer seasons of filler.

Final Grade for the finale: B
Final Grade for the series: B-

Unnecessary Censorship: LOST Edition
Flood of frogs shuts down major Greek highway
Sleeping woman left on plane for four hours

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, May 28, 2010

End-of-the-Month Media Day

I've added new photos to the Life, 2010 album, and only 6 of them include Booty!

Mark Twain exposé to hit stores this year
Executives out of ideas, want to reboot Alias
Video Gamers Can Control Dreams, Study Suggests

tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments


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